Michael Eaton lives and paints in North Canterbury, is one of a group of New Zealand artists who trained in the 1950s. As Eaton says ‘change was in the air’ it was an exciting time to be at art school and many of his contemporaries went on to illustrious careers in the art world such as Bill Culbert, John Coley, Quentin Macfarlane, Hamish Keith, Dick Frizzell and others. This was a time that, as in literature, artists began to speak with a New Zealand voice. They were influenced by art movements in Europe and America but lived and worked in New Zealand. Grounding their work with the concerns of New Zealand and the landscape and society of New Zealand. New Zealand was ‘home’ not England.
Eaton has exhibited widely both in group and solo exhibitions. He recalls representing New Zealand alongside Ralph Hotere and Ray Thorburn at the XIth Biennale in Sao Paulo in 1971. He also remembers being invited in 1964 to exhibit with now internationally acclaimed, Colin McCahon at the Globe Theatre Gallery, Dunedin. McCahon’s paintings sold for between $40 to $60 and Eaton’s for $8.00. Values are very different today. The list of artists with whom Eaton has exhibited reads like the Who’s Who of New Zealand art.